Flores is located east of Sumbawa and west of Lembata and the Alor Archipelago. To the southeast is Timor. To the south, across the Sumba strait, is Sumba and to the north, beyond the Flores Sea, is Sulawesi. The largest town is Maumere.
Flores is almost all Catholic and represents one of the “religious borders” created by the Catholic expansion in the Pacific and the spread of Islam from the west across Indonesia. In other places in Indonesia, such as in Maluku and Sulawesi, the divide is more rigid and has been the source of bloody sectarian clashes.
There are many languages spoken on the island of Flores, all of them belonging to the Austronesian family. In the centre of the island in the districts of Ngada and Ende there is what is variously called the Central Flores Dialect Chain or the Central Flores Linkage. Within this area there are slight linguistic differences in almost every village. At least six separate languages are identifiable. These are from west to east: Ngadha, Nage, Keo, Ende, Lio and Palu’e, which is spoken on the island with the same name of the north coast of Flores. Locals would probably also add So’a and Bajawa to this list, which anthropologists have labeled dialects of Ngadha.
Portuguese traders and missionaries came to Flores in the 16th century, mainly to Larantuka and Sikka. Their influence is still discernible in Sikka’s language and culture.
Labuanbajo — launching point for Komodo Island and diving and snorkeling
Ende — lazy capital of the Island and departure point for ferries to West Timor
Maumere — diving/snorkeling center and easiest place to fly in and out of Flores
Riung — diving/snorkeling center
Moni — launching point for trek up Mount Kelimutu
Bajawa — is one of the best areas in Nusa Tenggara to see indigenous architecture in local ethnic minority villages
Ruteng — ethnic minority center interesting local villages
Kelimutu — the famous three-colored lakes
Kalong Island (Pulau Kalung) — see tens-of-thousands of bats emerge into the sky from a mangrove island at dusk (see Labuhanbajo)
Kanawa — an island within Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park — home of the Komodo dragon, a very rich marine fauna, magnificent remote landscapes and much more
Seraya Island (Pulau Seraya) — idyllic resort island with great snorkeling and diving (see Labuhanbajo)
A number of companies organize 4 day sailing trips between Lombok or Bali and Flores which take in Komodo and Rinca. These cost around Rp1 million passengers should be aware that these trips can cross open waters and are on boats with no navigation or safety equipment other than some lifejackets (i.e. no radio, flares or life rafts).
Bemos, small vans with seats facing each other, operate linking all the main towns. It is an incredible way to see the island and the driving ensures it is an exhilarating ride if you don’t mind the heat, dust, and being squashed next to an old dear with a chicken.
The most famous tourist attraction in Flores island itself is the crater lakes at Mount Kelimutu usually reach from Ende. The colors change on a regular basis with aqua/turquoise, green, red and chocolate brown reported. This amazing natural phenomenon is thought to be caused by changed by chemical reactions of minerals in the lake triggered by volcano gas activity.
Flores has good snorkeling and scuba diving in several locations along the north coast, most notably Komodo and Riung. However, owing to the destructive practice of local fishermen using dynamite, and locals selling shells to tourists, however, the coral reefs are slowly being destroyed in Riung. The Komodo National Park is held up as a role model for other parks throughout the world and the reefs and marine life are in nearly pristine condition.
If you come to the city Ende, be sure to try their kind of Indonesian coffee ‘Kopi Ende’. It is coffee beans and ginger toasted together and brewed like normal coffee.
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